New Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams vowed to roll up his sleeves and put in the hard work to get the football body humming again and to steer the “Soca Warriors” into a top 50 world ranking.
John-Williams, who was voted to the top football post yesterday and replaces outgoing president Raymond Tim Kee, said he will not be a “jacket and tie president.”
“I want to tell Trinidad and Tobago they are getting a president who will set an example and will do anything for football that is legal to improve the game,” John-Williams told Wired868 last night. “If I have to pick up paper, I will do that. You won’t find a jacket and tie president here, if you understand what I mean.
“I will work hard for the game to bring the pride back to Trinidad and Tobago at all levels.”
John-Williams’ assertion suggests a change in managerial style from his predecessor, Tim Kee, who also held the portfolios of Port of Spain mayor and PNM treasurer and was criticised for not prioritising the local game.
Tim Kee once said, during a radio interview on i95.5 FM, that he only travelled first class and was true to his word, while his players and technical staff flew in coach.
John-Williams said his first priority is to address matters related to the Women’s National Senior Team.
“Women Soca Warriors” coach Randy Waldrum remains in limbo about his post and has waited for a conclusive phone call from Tim Kee for the last month. And captain Maylee Attin-Johnson and star Kennya “Yaya” Cordner both refused to join the squad due to internal issues.
The W/Warriors are expected to depart for Hawaii tomorrow for an exhibition match with FIFA World Cup champions, the United States.
“I hope the last president and general secretary took care of (travel arrangements for the women’s squad) because it would just leave us a day to deal with that,” said the new TTFA president. “The women’s team is not going bad and I would like to see how I can get that on the road. I know there is an issue with Maylee Attin-Johnson and (Kennya) Cordner… They are two important players in the national setup, so it has to be addressed as quickly as possible.
“I think we can come out of that (2016 Olympic qualifying) group. It would be tremendous for the women to qualify for the Olympics, after just missing out on the (2015) World Cup.”
John-Williams, who announced that his daughter Renee John-Williams will immediately succeed him as CEO of Pro League club, DIRECTV W Connection, said he will speak to Men’s National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart soon to discuss plans for next January’s 2016 Copa America play off with Haiti in Panama.
He described the centennial 2016 Copa America tournament, which will include six CONCACAF teams alongside 10 CONMEBOL nations, as “tremendously important” to his stated goal of making the Warriors a top 50 football nation.
“A good performance (against the best South American nations) can see us propel in the FIFA world rankings,” said John-Williams. “We need to be 50 and above to really market the Trinidad and Tobago brand (and) get greater television revenues…
“It is very important I meet coach Hart and the technical department to see where we are in terms of players for that game, as it falls outside the FIFA (match) window.”
At present, the Warriors are ranked 50th in the world while their average position in the past two decades is 64th. Trinidad and Tobago’s highest position since the introduction of the FIFA rankings came in 2000 when then coach Bertille St Clair led the team to 29th place after a top four finish at the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament and two Caribbean Cup titles.
St Clair, a Tobagonian, was also the first coach to take Trinidad and Tobago to a FIFA tournament, after he steered the two island republic to the 1991 Under-20 World Cup with the likes of Dwight Yorke, Jerren Nixon, Angus Eve and Clayton Ince.
Apart from improved marketability, a consistent FIFA top 50 ranking will allow Soca Warriors a straightforward process for accessing work permits to play in Britain.
Incidentally, former Connection player and current team captain, Kenwyne Jones, was Trinidad and Tobago’s last successful export to Britain, after he joined Southampton in 2004. And ex-Connection midfielder, Silvio Spann, was the last Soca Warrior to get a UK work permit back in 2007.
Since then, Trinidad and Tobago’s slide down the FIFA rankings, which started with the TTFA’s infamous blacklist of its 2006 World Cup players, meant that the likes of goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, midfielder Khaleem Hyland, winger Lester Peltier and playmaker Ataulla Guerra all failed to get permits.
John-Williams said he hoped to meet Tim Kee soon to discuss the TTFA portfolio he has just inherited. He said he would not make change just for the sake of it and intended to keep the things that were working. And that includes Hart’s senior team.
There was a caveat though.
“We seem to have a very stable Trinidad and Tobago national team,” said John-Williams. “I think the pool (of players) can be expanded. Because when you go deeper into the qualifiers, injuries, cards and so on can play a deeper role.
“I will give Stephen Hart that support.”
Hart has pleaded, unsuccessfully, with the TTFA for the past two and a half years to fund a camp for local-based talent, which will allow him to spend time with Pro League players and introduce them to his methods.
However, John-Williams’ proximity to W Connection will remain an intriguing side-plot whenever national senior teams are selected in the foreseeable future, as he acknowledged in a previous interview with Wired868.
“I can’t change the love I have for W Connection and the passion I have for W Connection,” he said, “but I have to manage it.”
Incidentally, Connection advanced to the 2015 Toyota Classic Cup final shortly after the presidential election at the same Hasely Crawford Stadium venue. They won on penalties against Central FC, which is headed by former Sport Minister and advisor to the Sport Minister Brent Sancho and Kevin Harrison respectively, after a 2-2 draw.
At present, Sancho and Harrison are both before the TTFA’s disciplinary committee for a series of alleged ethical and financial violations related to their tenure with the Couva-based club.
John-Williams promised to meet with vice-presidents Ewing Davis, Joanne Salazar and Allan Warner today to set a date for their first board meeting and the creation of the finance and technical committees, which he described as paramount.
The new TTFA board of directors comprises of: Samuel Saunders (Central FA), Sherwyn Dyer (Eastern Counties Football Union), Karanjabari Williams (Northern FA), Richard Quan Chan (Southern FA), Anthony Moore (Tobago FA), Joseph Taylor (Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association), Dexter Skeene (TT Pro League) and Sharon O’Brien (Women’s League Football).
John-Williams missed the birthday of his father, Lewis John-Williams, who turned 96 yesterday in Granville, Cedros.
Instead, the younger John-Williams put Trinidad and Tobago’s football first.
“I am extremely happy (with the TTFA’s election results),” the new TTFA president told Wired868. “It was an emotional day for me personally… My dad is 96 years old (and) I missed his birthday.
“This one is for him. I feel honoured.”
(The new TTFA hierarchy)
President: David John-Williams.
Vice-presidents: Ewing Davis, Joanne Salazar, Allan Warner.
Board of directors: Samuel Saunders (Central FA), Sherwyn Dyer (Eastern Counties Football Union), Karanjabari Williams (Northern FA), Richard Quan Chan (Southern FA), Anthony Moore (Tobago FA), Joseph Taylor (Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association), Dexter Skeene (TT Pro League) and Sharon O’Brien (Women’s League Football).